Kalanchoe - Air Plant, Aurora Borealis, Elephant's Ears, Felt Bush, Mother Of Thousands, Panda Plant, Plush Plant, Pussy Ears, South American Air Plant, Velvet Elephant Ear
DESCRIPTION: This large group consisting of succulent plants is found in subtropical and tropical countries throughout the world. These plants vary greatly; they range from leafy succulents to huge tree-like plants. The shapes, sizes and colors of the leaves are as equally diverse; some have whole or toothed edges, and some may be smooth or very fuzzy. Some species make excellent houseplants. In early spring or fall, bell-shaped flowers that may be white, red, purple, yellow, orange, or brown are produced. They grow at the stem tips and are followed by small, brown seedpods. K. rhombopilosa is an interesting plant that produces flat whorls of grayish-green to white leaves that are usually splotched with red. The leaves grow on short, erect stems that form a small, prostrate bush with age. In the spring, tiny, greenish-yellow flowers are borne. If this delicate plant is bumped hard, its foliage will drop, but the leaves will root easily. This variety grows up to 6 inches high with a spread of 15 inches. K. beharensis (Elephant's Ears; Felt Bush) quickly forms a large bush or small tree with large, arrowhead-shaped, olive- to grayish-green leaves that are clothed with velvety bronze fuzz. This plant can grow up to 12 feet high with a spread of 7 feet. On mature plants only, tiny, yellowish-green flowers are produced in the spring. Plantlets will form on the stalks of cut leaves; these will readily grow into new plants. K. tomentosa (Panda Plant; Plush Plant; Pussy Ears) grows up to 2 feet high with a spread of 4 feet. It makes a great houseplant when young, surviving in sun or shade. The Panda Plant is covered with soft, downy leaves, which are usually light blue-green. The darker colored leaf tips may be reddish to golden or dark brown. K. tubiflora (Mother of Thousands) is a curious variety with mottled, tube-shaped leaves. The fuzzy, brownish leaves can be blotched with greenish-brown, gray, purple, or pink. The leaves grow from a hair-less central stem, which branches after blooming, eventually becoming prostrate. Numerous plantlets, which grow at the leaf tips, will readily grow into new plants. When the plant reaches maturity, clusters of orange-red to purple flowers are produced in early spring. K. thrysiflora is a beautiful variety that can form clumps up to 2 feet wide and high, though the stems are usually shorter and prostrate, branching at the base. In low light, the round leaves are green and covered with white bloom, which washes off by rain or overhead watering. In bright light, however, the green leaves develop red edges. The flowers are yellow.
POTTING: These plants can be grown outdoors where temperatures remain above 45º F; otherwise, they may be grown in homes or greenhouses. These plants can be grown in sun or shade, though they prefer bright, indirect light and heat. The best compost to use consists of two parts loam and one part equal quantities of sand and broken brick. When grown in containers, in March or as soon as new growth begins, they may be repotted making sure the compost is made firm. After potting, no water is given until the soil is dry. Water should be applied freely during the summer, but only enough to keep the leaves from shriveling in the winter.
PROPAGATION: Propagation can be accomplished by taking cuttings in the spring. Shoots, 2-3 inches long, are removed and cut through just beneath a node or joint. Remove the lower leaves and insert them in sand, vermiculite, or some similar material that is kept barely moist. A 60-degree temperature or higher is the best for rooting and a light place with a little shade from the strongest sunshine should be provided. When they have rooted, they should be potted in well-drained pots filled with very porous soil. Single leaves can be used to increase these plants. They should be set flat on the sand or vermiculite surface and weighted or pinned down, or they can be set with their basal ends just beneath the surface. Seeds can also be sown in pots of sandy soil in the spring or summer. Plantlets, found on the leaf margins, can be detached and planted.
K. blossfeldiana & var. Flaming Katy;
K. beharensis (Elephant's Ears; Felt Bush; Velvet Elephant Ear);
K. tomentosa (Panda Plant; Plush Plant; Pussy Ears);
K. fedtschenhoi var. Variegata (Aurora Borealis; South American Air Plant);
K. tubiflora (Mother of Thousands);
Go see DICTIONARY OF BOTANICAL NAMES.
Back to our botanical home page.